November 29, 2021

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Airbnb’s Pandemic Party-Blocking Spree Rages On

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Photo: Carl Court / Staff (Getty Images)

Airbnb is still firmly insisting that you stop partying in its rentals, punctuating that request with swift action as it continues to cancel what it deems to be “suspicious” bookings across the U.S.

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On Monday, Airbnb’s head of trust and safety communication, Ben Breit, told The Verge that the vacation and homestay marketplace has blocked over 50,000 sketchy bookings in at least 15 U.S. cities in the past year as part of a pandemic-initiated crackdown on parties in its properties. Of those cancellations, Breit said that 7,000 had occurred in Dallas, 6,000 in San Diego, 5,100 in Charlotte, 3,500 in St. Louis, 3,000 in Columbus, and 2,700 in New Orleans.

In an interview with The Denver Post — which reported thousands of additional automated cancellations in cities such as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Dallas, Seattle and Portland — Breit zeroed in on the customers the company is targeting and did not mince words: it’s young people who seem like they party a lot and might, hypothetically, trash an Airbnb.

“If you are under the age of 25 and you don’t have a history of positive reviews, we will not allow you to book an entire home listing local to where you live,” Breit said.

Since July of last year, Airbnb has been engaged in a reinvigorated initiative to clamp down on illicit gatherings in the rental units it sponsors. After initially instituting policies banning designated “party houses” outright in 2019, the company tightened those restrictions in 2020 with its “Summer of Safe Travel” initiative, when it banned parties in its rental outright amid a global pandemic that necessitated social distancing and distinctly un-party vibes. “Instituting a global ban on parties and events is in the best interest of public health,” the company said at the time.

So far, Airbnb says, that policy has been a success: The company reported that major party-centric holidays like Halloween and New Year’s Eve have been particularly “quiet” in the last year as a result of the rule change. Even as the CDC and other agencies ease restrictions mandating social distancing and other health precautions as the pandemic wanes, all indicators point to Airbnb continuing to enforce its auto-blocking policies for would-be partiers into the future.

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